Why are you only reading this headline?

I recently re-published a blog entry on Linkedin with a provocative headline, “Restore Climate by bringing back Mammoths?” It got a lot of views, but judging from the comments on Linkedin, not many bothered to read the article.

That seems wrong and kind of offends me as the author.

I will, however, admit my own guilt. I am human. I knew the title would provoke people and I did it anyway. And as a reader and retweeter, I am also guilty.

And what about you? Let those who have not retweeted titles cast the first flame.

Apparently, 59% of retweeted and shared articles are not read, according to one study. I say “apparently” because I found the link in another article and only read the abstract (hey, at least I read the abstract and found it claims to be a reproducible study, hence at a higher bar than 80% of social science studies — that last stat, btw, is something I’ve heard and repeated many times; perhaps its true).

If you want to get offended at this behavior, and I have, there are plenty of examples of how terrible the behavior has become, including the joke that NPR played on their readers.

I think there is a deep connection between the supposed 100,000 words a day we read daily, and the tendency to react to just headlines. Really, who has the time to read yet more content if there is some much more reading, viewing, and listening to do?

It is a reason I’m trying to write more and consuming less. The creative process requires reflection and synthesis. Consumption is literally in and out of our brains. We forget most of the content we consume within 24 hours. If the act of reading and watching is like eating and drinking, then writing and creating is like building cells and reviving the body. I like the analogy because we do need some food and some media consumption. Without creation, we are only poop producers.